By Jad Daley
THIS ISSUE Sof the American Forests magazine coincides with a grand opening: the United States Chapter of 1t.org, a global movement to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees by 2030.
American Forests and the World Economic Forum, which launched 1t.org in January, have come together to launch this chapter as the first of its kind. Other regional chapters are being considered.
So why is American Forests taking on yet another new challenge? Because it is time to bring together the most inclusive forest movement ever assembled in our country, from governments to Girl Scouts.
You have heard a lot from American Forests about our ambition to be a movement builder, rallying America behind our vision to reforest America by restoring damaged forest landscapes and bringing Tree Equity to our cities.
Put simply, 1t.org gives us the power to do this better than we have ever dared to dream. The trillion trees vision is drawing in unprecedented new partners from well beyond the traditional forest community. This includes companies that have ambitions to go carbon neutral or negative, youth groups, churches and individuals rallying to the idea of planting trees and caring for our forests like never before.
No wonder, because we need trees like never before. Trees offer our most powerful natural solution to help slow climate change — potentially almost 30 percent of needed carbon reductions. But climate change-induced wildfires, droughts, pests and diseases are more prevalent than ever and compromise our forests’ ability to sequester and store carbon. We must take action to help our forests survive climate change, so they can help us solve the problem.
In American cities, people have sweated through a dangerously hot summer when they could not safely go to crowded parks or indoor spaces to cool off, due to COVID-19. Lower income people living without air conditioning have been especially at risk. This situation has underscored the life or death urgency in bringing the cooling benefits of trees to every neighborhood, which is our vision for Tree Equity.
We need a surge of forest conservation, restoration and tree planting comparable to a century ago, when American Forests was building the forest movement. In the 1930s, American Forests helped create the Civilian Conservation Corps, employing more than 3 million young people who planted millions of trees, fought wildfires and improved wild- life habitats. We can put America back to work again planting and caring for trees.
That’s where the new U.S. Chapter of 1t.org comes in. Our belief is that the way we plant a trillion trees is one tree at a time. No contribution is too small. So we are going to use the U.S. Chapter of 1t.org to help anyone and everyone who is interested to find their place in this work. For the first time in decades, we have a community made up of the full diversity of partners who care about forests.
So how will the chapter make the whole of this movement more than the sum of its parts?
- We invite any company, nonprofit organization or government to make a pledge of action, which will challenge everyone to do more and raise awareness. You can check the latest pledges and total actions committed on our new website www.us.1t.org.
- We offer a powerful community of practice for trillion trees partners to learn, share and innovate. This will include cutting-edge forestry tools and resources shared on our website, online trainings and eventual in-person work- shops, which we call Learning Labs.
- We will help individuals find a role, such as providing support to nonprofits leading this work and learning how to plant trees at home.
Our approach is already working. Twenty-eight U.S.-based governments, companies and nonprofit organizations that are part of the chapter have collectively pledged to plant or prevent the loss of nearly 850 million trees, in cities and large forest landscapes here in the U.S. and abroad. And this is just the very beginning.
There are few moments in history when America has faced so many colliding issues at one time. This perfect storm includes COVID-19, climate change, reckoning on racial equity and worsening risks to forests and other natural resources. The 1t.org U.S. Chapter will help our country meet this moment. Our leadership partner, the World Economic Forum, brings a wealth of global relationships, skilled people and technical resources to help us lead like never before. Onward to a trillion!
For more news and updates from Jad, follow him on Twitter @JadDaley.